Natural light photography has swelled in popularity as sensors improve, but the persistent battle between off-camera flashes or strobes, and just using available light continues. This video shows Manny Ortiz going head-to-head with Jessica Kobeissi to highlight the differences.
I find it difficult to stand resolute in either camp here; I'd rather be (to quote Tim Minchin) in defense or the fence. Both lighting styles have their own place and offer different results which — for me — are intended for different purposes. Natural light portraiture is usually true to the first half of its name: natural. The shadows are often much softer and the images are closer to scenes you would see with the eye. Off-camera flash photographer, however, offers a glossy commercial feel that you're more used to seeing in print.
It's worth noting that Kobeissi and Ortiz really leaned in to their respective styles here. That is, much harsher shadows could have been achieved with just the natural light, and the off-camera flash could have been used more as a fill light than a key light, but it's a brilliant reference tool for the different styles. As the shoot was framed as a head-to-head, I'd have to give it to Ortiz here, but it's not cut and dry. Kobeissi's natural light images had a fashion editorial feel, partially due to her excellent model direction, whereas Ortiz's images were a little more engaging for me. They were also technically superb with a great balance of ambient and strobe lighting to achieve that high contrast result.
Which style did you prefer?